Catherine Meeks is the recent recipient of The President Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of a lifetime spent working in the field of racial healing and social justice. She is a force to be reckoned with.
This is a book of forty-eight meditations covering a variety of topics including “The Media Need to Stop Being Racism’s Press Agent” (#39), “Colorism and Ubuntu” (#40), and “Racialized Trauma” (#14).
Meeks pulls no punches — for example, saying: “It seems important to me that we not allow ourselves to be seduced by a handful of rich white men who are preoccupied with finding a way to relocate themselves and their friends to other galaxies in an effort to avoid the work here that needs to be done.”
She offers instruction, history, encouragement, and remedies. She aims at “engaging racism at its core,” and explains how this will be serious, step-by-step work. There is no formula or “a prescription that can be found somewhere.”
Portions of the book that will be most helpful to white people — and whites are the necessary, intended, audience — offer advice on what to do to bring about change, once an awakening to systems of racism has taken place. “White people tend to gravitate toward communities of color when they begin to wake up to racism, but it would be more helpful in many ways for them to look toward other whites first as they seek to find ways to share their newfound liberation,” Meeks cautions. Later, she advises “[The best course of action] after listening carefully and paying close attention to the feedback that comes when any kind of critique is being given is to ask, 'How can I be helpful' or 'What do you want?' People of color and others struggling with oppressive systems have the capacity to know what they want and need, and they will speak about those needs and desires if given a chance.” Begin with this listening and asking, Meeks says, rather than “the arrogance of making choices to carry out certain good projects in a community without involving anyone in that community.”
“Racism and all of its relatives need to be banished from the planet, but it is not going anyplace except insofar as individuals stand up to it and declare their willingness to be on a healing journey,” she writes in the very last meditation.